Burch: Southern unmentionables

Friday, December 2, 2011 at 5:45pm
By Michael R. Burch

Southern gentlewomen once wore undergarments called “unmentionables.” Eventually we Southerners became either more enlightened or more libidinous (depending on one’s personal interpretation) and today skimpy bathing suits worn openly in public are far more revealing than the corsets, bloomers and petticoats of yore. But I believe we Southerners still have an embarrassing secret that we refuse to discuss or even mention in public: the systematic emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse of millions of children under the guise of adults’ “religious freedom.” This abuse, which I hope to help bring to light and end, is the Christian dogma of “hell.”

It comes in the form of the seemingly innocent phrase “Jesus saves,” which is the basis of the Christian religion. But Jesus obviously doesn’t save Christians from suffering in this life, or from death. So what does he save them from? The only thing he saves them from, as far as I can tell, is eternal damnation, or hell. Therefore, in order for anyone to be “saved” according to orthodox Christianity, they must first be condemned to hell.

This creates a terrifying predicament for young, highly impressionable children who are told that a schizophrenic God loves them unconditionally, but will either cause or allow them to suffer for all eternity if they don’t “believe” in him.

What would a judge or jury do, if a human father built a torture chamber next to his children’s bedrooms and threatened to punish them unrelentingly if they “messed up”? Well, that’s what popes, priests, pastors and Sunday school teachers do, in a spiritual sense, when they threaten children with hell.

In a previous article, I made the rather obvious point that religious organizations like the Roman Catholic Church and quasi-religious organizations like the Boy Scouts of America should not be allowed to keep child abusers from justice in the quest to protect their images and generate revenues. But there are other forms of child abuse.

What about the psychological, emotional and spiritual abuse of children? What about the many churches that teach children that Jesus saves only the “chosen few,” and that anyone who thinks independently and considers the “good news” to be irrational or immoral is bound for an “eternal hell”? How can this be allowed in a nation whose creed is equal rights and justice for everyone? What about the rights of children not to be abused by adults?

Having grown up in evangelical Christian churches, I have great empathy for children who live under the shadow of hell and it disturbs me greatly that our “free press” and government refuse to lift a finger to help them, and that most Southerners fail to say a word in their defense.

Hell is child abuse, pure and simple. The religious freedom of adults should not allow them to abuse children.

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.


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53 Comments on this post:

By: Mike Burch on 12/9/11 at 3:48

And who would be the watchdog for things like this?

Better the government than your friendly neighborhood witch doctor. Mark Twain said that he discovered that he had been "saved" for revenue only, and it embarrassed him. But the dogma of an "eternal hell" can cause children terrible distress. I have talked to a number of grown men who admit how sick and terrified they felt, as children, when they were threatened with hell if they didn't believe things that are not true.

What happens when adults tell children that God "loves" them but will only "save" them if they "believe" in him. When children pray to God and God is unable or willing to answer them, how can they believe that God really loves them? It is natural for them to assume that they are unsavable, and lost.

Christians who blithely tell children such things abandon common sense, and common decency. There is absolutely no evidence that there is a God who loves human beings, or who demands belief. Even worse, the God of the Bible acts like the Devil, demanding belief without earning it.

As a result, Christians abuse millions of children, sowing the seeds of doubt and despair. How can a true religion oppress and abuse millions of children? If God and Jesus love children, why don't they speak to them personally?

By: acluu on 12/9/11 at 6:49

Mike Burch said: “Citing the bad behavior of a few atheists and agnostics doesn't accomplish much. What about the reprehensible behavior of millions of Christians who owned slaves, and burned "witches" and "heretics" at the stake”?

Hmm ... “Citing the bad behavior of a few atheists and agnostics doesn't accomplish much.
Well then, if considering murdering between 30 – 150+ million citizens doesn’t “accomplish much” then what should the benchmark be for the “bad behavior of a few atheists”?

Jesus said “He was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it”.

Mike Burch also says: “As Oscar Wilde said, the only sin is stupidity. The real question is why Christians torture their own children with the dogma of hell”.

Is this the same “Oscar Wilde” had numerous sexual encounters with working-class male youths, who were often called, rent boys?

Wilde himself believed that he belonged to a culture of male love inspired by the Greek pederastic tradition, through his association with the Uranians. This tradition believed that it was an adult male's duty to bring boys into manhood via sexuality.
He also profoundly explored Roman Catholicism, to which he would later convert on his deathbed.

By: Granpa1 on 12/9/11 at 10:51

Mr. Burch,

As I said, "The same sun that hardens the clay, softens the wax".
It is important that you understand I am aware your reasonings for your open contempt. Obviously, if God does not speak to you, then He doesn't speak to anyone else either, that persons who insist He does are misinformed or deranged.
That being said, anything that might be said to you is simply fuel for your fire, because you shall argue vehemently for whatever reason that you deem appropriate, whether it be there is no God, or He is sadistic for any number of reasons, or that He abuses children, etc., etc.
Were I to make illustration, you would argue that the basis of my arguement is myth and revile that also. There really is not good reason to even approach you. You have stated your position quite well and frankly, I am pleased to leave it at that.
But, before I close my remarks, I shall say one last thing. I am completely comfortable in my believing, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen". Also, I accept that the worlds were framed by the Word of God. I do believe that the things that are seen, are made by those things which do not appear.
Just as the struggle that confronted our forebears (Cain did slay Able), so too do you and I, and others, find ourselves in a controversy. Do you not find remarkable however, Gods response to the murder of Able by his brother Cain.
Judging by your comments, I anticipate you would disagree with the course of action that the Creator took regarding the murder, and the penalty imposed upon Cain. I realize you shall mock the account, so for this purpose applying to yourself, it is not relevant. For others it very well may be. I am just saying were you to believe such an event may have taken place, would you have dispositioned it differently, if for any other reason than some unstated rule of justice known only to you. Your list of grievances is long and I don't really know that a favorable resolution might be arrived at between us.
I really care about what happened to Jesus. For reasons also beyond the superficial ones you may entertain.
One last question, do you believe we must love our neighbor? If so, in what manner would that love manifest itself?
I believe in God. How should I conduct myself around you, were we ever to come into one anothers company?